They all look up to Blige

Times Staff Writer

Amid a barrage of popping flashblubs, Mary J. Blige grew speechless for a moment, pausing to wipe what appeared to be a tear from her eye as she contemplated her startling eight Grammy nominations Thursday morning shortly after the announcements at the Henry Fonda Theater in Hollywood.

"I'm overwhelmed right now," said Blige, 35. "To get them for this album makes me really excited. This album represents triumph and being a victor, not a victim."

On the strength of her seventh studio album, "The Breakthrough" -- which has sold more than 6 million copies worldwide since its December 2005 release and is widely considered the most important of her career -- she led all contenders with nominations in major categories, including record of the year, best R&B; album, and song of the year for her ballad "Be Without You."

The Bronx-born three-time Grammy winner, dubbed the Queen of Hip-hop Soul, has been on an awards season tear. She took home two statuettes at the American Music Awards last month and nine Billboard Music Awards on Monday.

"We turned tragedy into triumph this year," said Blige, dressed in a curve-hugging tartan vest and pants ensemble. "I'm feeling blessed. Positive. I'm happy."

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